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Ag Groups Urge Congress to Grant Permanent Trade Status to Vietnam

Oct 23, 2006

Ag Groups Urge Congress to Grant Permanent Trade Status to Vietnam

Noting that Vietnam's entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO) is likely to happen soon, 40 U.S. agricultural organizations, including IDFA, recently called on Congress to pass legislation that would give the country permanent normal trade relations status. Granting this status would allow the United States to receive the full benefit of Vietnam's accession to the WTO, which would include lower tariffs on dairy products.

If enacted, the legislation would permanently reduce whey tariffs, which range from 20% to 30%, to 10% over five years. Cheese tariffs would be reduced immediately from 20% to 10%, and tariffs on ice cream would be reduced from 50% to 20% over five years.

In a letter sent October 13, the agricultural groups urged Congress to make permanent the same normal trade rights that the United States provides to Vietnam on a temporary basis through periodic extensions. Until now, Vietnam had been ineligible for permanent status, according an amendment to the Trade Act of 1974. The Jackson-Vanic amendment withholds normal trade relations status from countries that restrict emigration, but the legislation under current consideration would eliminate the amendment's restrictions for Vietnam.

"We urge Congress to act now and pass the PNTR (permanent normal trade relations) for Vietnam so that U.S. food and agriculture is on an equal footing with global suppliers from other WTO members," the letter states.

Vietnam is a strong market for U.S. dairy products. In 2005, U.S. dairy exports to Vietnam reached $50 million, and the country ranks as the eighth largest export market in dollar volume.

"IDFA signed the letter to in an effort to enhance international trade opportunities for our members," said Clay Hough, IDFA senior vice president.

To read the letter and the names of the organizations that signed it, click here.

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Posted October 23, 2006

 
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